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Debate emerges at Joplin City Hall over investigator's bill - KOAM TV 7

Debate emerges at Joplin City Hall over investigator's bill

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A new debate at Joplin's City Hall centers over whether or not a legal bill should be paid.  Some city officials content some fees within that bill are outside a legal contract.

Several members of Joplin's city council say the investigator's somewhat narrow focus he was supposed to use throughout his report somehow ended up more broad.  They say it may be no coincidence then that the investigator has charged the city more than what was agreed to in his contract.

It's the latest cause and effect from Joplin's city hall.  First, there were allegations of misconduct against two city councilmen, so a private investigator was hired by the city.  Now comes a bill from the investigator, and at least one city council member doesn't like it.

"I'd like to fall out of my chair," says Councilman Gary Shaw.

The investigator's bill is $67,000.  Shaw says that's 49% higher than what city council set forth in a contract with the private investigator.

"Anything over that, he was supposed to come to the council to get approval," says Shaw.

Shaw says the private investigator never asked for that approval.  The councilman says the investigator's report itself is not factual, for the most part.

"I don't think any of the questions were solely answered, no.  Is there some perception out there that you could come to your own conclusion and say, well it's possible?  That's true about any subject," says Shaw.

Shaw says some parts of the report are even untrue.

"An assumption that the investigator made to us in a meeting concerning a comment that one of the people that he had interrogated made.  And so it was a misassumption on his part," says Shaw.

Shaw has asked the city's attorney to ask the private investigator for an itemized list of fees.  Until that happens, many residents are OK with the investigation and its cost.

"I'm not a big political fan to start with.  But yeah, everyone has to have answers," says one Joplin resident.

"I don't know what expenses he incurred.  I assume he can justify the fees.  If he can't, then he shouldn't be awarded 67 thousand dollars," says another Joplin resident.

City Attorney Brian Head has not returned our call for comment on this story.  The private investigator who was hired also has not returned our call.
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